Touring the Creepy Abandoned Hospital Complex on Ellis Island [PHOTOS]

Posted on: April 17th, 2015 at 10:10 am by
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Creepy. Cold. Intense. Haunted. All apt adjectives to describe the unused section of Ellis Island designated as ruins. It is on the south side of this national park – straddling the state lines of New York and New Jersey – that a maze-like collection of twenty-nine buildings sits. Rotting away from the inside out.

Indeed, you wouldn’t necessarily know it at first glance, but these classic brick structures are in deplorable shape. Once upon a time, this facility housed the 750-bed hospital quarters, which counted a psychiatric ward, psychological ward, and infectious diseases ward among its ranks. The multi-use complex helped filter the sickly from the mass of humanity that passed through to America. Roughly 1.2 million people were processed in the hospital, representing about 10% of all arrivals.

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The space was gradually phased out by 1924, and later used by the Coast Guard. Also as a military detention center. It officially closed in 1954, alongside the cessation of the ferry.

Capitalizing on the urban decay in its backyard, the Save Ellis Island preservation group began touring the area last October as a means of fundraising to pay for renovations. Cost estimates to upgrade the facility is in the neighborhood of $300 million, thanks in large part to flooding from Hurricane Sandy. The hard-hat jaunt is their most popular program. So successful, in fact, that reservations are booked solid for three months.

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We decided to take the trip across the harbor to Ellis Island to walk through this history.

The past is very much alive in these dilapidated turn-of-the-century buildings. Downright eerie, sometimes resembling a concentration camp compound. In fact, does this not look like Auschwitz?

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Street artist JR was commissioned to decorate the ruins with wheat-paste images derived directly from immigrant photos. The whole tour route is littered with these pieces (16 to be precise), a collaboration called “Unframed – Ellis Island,” which is the subject of a new short film in this year’s TriBeCa Film Festival.

Creepiest room on the tour – the “autopsy theater” and its stadium seating.

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